Thursday, 7 March 2019

Orphaned Magical Research Rules

I'm still working on my homebrewed fantasy heartbreaker. Although it's gone from being a house-ruled version of B/X to something else. I might write about it, and my other projects, later.

What I want to write about today is the research system I think I developed; my memory isn't what it was. It's a d6 based system but 1d6, while I've gone onto using a 3d6 system for the bell curve. While I'm still planning on keeping the core of the system with its stages of development, the core die mechanic is going to change. This means that the old version, this version, is orphaned. So I thought I'd share.

It all starts with intelligence:
Some explanation:

Additional Languages.

This is the number of additional languages a character begins play with. It also dictates their initial literacy. See Research Roll below to discover how to learn languages in play.

  • Nil language: The character lacks language and is forced to communicate through grunts and gestures.
  • 0: The character can only speak fluently in their native language.
  • +#: The character speaks fluently an additional language, wherein n is the number of additional languages spoken.
  • Illiterate: The character is unable to read or write.
  • Basic literacy: The character is able to read a few words and possibly write their own name. Their penmanship is poor though.
  • Literate: The character is able to fluently read and write; they can communicate as well in written form as they can in speech.
  • Literate +#: The character is able to fluently read and write an additional language, wherein n is the number of additional languages the character is literate in.

Research  Roll:

This is the chance on a d6 for a character to learn a new spell or do magical research. It can also be used to learn new languages. Among other things.
In general a roll to do research, or learn something new can happen once every set period of time, possibly with some extra cost or some-such.
If there is a research penalty applied to the roll then one starts at the intelligence score of one’s character and then counts down. So an INT 10 character with a -2 penalty would roll as if they were INT 8; which remains a 2 in 6 chance anyway. More about spell studying and research can be found in the chapter on Magic & Spells below.

Learning new languages:

There are three stages to learning a new spoken language, each of which takes a month of game time during which the character should be exposed to the language in question on a daily basis. The character is able to do other things, including adventuring, during this time. Difficult languages or writing systems should have a research penalty to learn.
After a month and a successful research roll the character achieves Basic Fluency in the new language; they can speak a few key phrases, such as “Hello little girl,” “I speak your language very well,” “Which way to your mother,” “So is your face,” and “My flying carpet is full of salmon.
After another month and successful research roll the character achieves Conversational Fluency. They are able to hold a conversation with a native speaker of the language well enough to make themselves understood. However complex topics are still beyond them.
Finally after a third month and successful research roll the character achieves Full Fluency, where they can speak the language like a native.
Literacy follows the same procedure, but only takes a week per roll. Literacy can be gained at the same time as fluency but cannot exceed a character’s fluency in that language.

Weapon Proficiency:

All characters begin proficient in certain weapons, as by their character class description. Typically their starting weapon. When using a new weapon, in which they are not proficient, then they fight with a penalty of -3. After a week’s practice with the weapon they can make a research roll and if successful the penalty drops to -2. With each additional week’s practice and successful research roll the penalty reduces by a point until it reaches zero, at which point the character is proficient with that weapon.
Fighters and Outlanders have their own methods of developing weapon proficiencies and do not need to make research rolls to do so.

Spell Memorisation.

These are bonus spells that a character who can cast Arcane spells can add to their repertoire. These modifiers stack so a character with an INT of 15 would be able to memorise an additional three extra first level spells.

That gives a brief foundation in what's going on. The core column in this case being the research roll. Next onto the meat of the system.:

Spell Study: 

If and when a magic using character finds a new spell from some source and are able to study that source it is a relatively easy thing to learn to use the spell themselves. If the source is something like a spell book or grimoire that the character is able to readily read then they get to make a research roll every game time day of study (including a good night’s rest). If the source is a book that the character is unable to readily read, perhaps because it is in a foreign language or is in some way encoded then they must first decode or translate it into some readily readable form. This may require additional adventures.
If the spell is from esoteric source, such as a standing magical effect, an anomaly, a magic item or similar then first the character must use the Spell Research rules below to research the effect so that they can develop enough of an understanding of it to study it as a spell. Although with a bonus to the research. In the case of a standing magical effect or anomaly this will require setting up a laboratory at the site. More portable effects can be taken to previously established facilities for study.
In any regards spell study carries a research penalty equal to the level of the spell being studied. A failed roll just means that the time spent studying was wasted, or the character was distracted. There’s nothing stopping them returning to their studies tomorrow.

Spell Research: 

If a magic using character wishes to create a new spell, item or similar they must first research it. There are three stages to research: Breakthrough, Experimentation and Completion.


The magic user must first make a number of successful breakthrough rolls equal to the level of the spell being researched. Each breakthrough takes one week of game time to research, and costs 100sp per week, outside of other costs. A failed roll for a breakthrough just wastes the time and resources put into that week’s research.


Once they have made sufficient breakthroughs the magic users moves on to experimentation. Again they must make a number of experimentation rolls equal to the level of the spell that they are researching. These each take a day of game time and cost 10sp per level of the spell being researched. A failed roll represents a setback which forces the magic user to go back and make another breakthrough to counter it. Thankfully any time spent experimenting counts towards the week making the new breakthrough.


When they have finally made all their breakthroughs and experiments the magic user can finally move onto codifying and recording their discovery. This takes one game week of time and costs 100sp per level of the spell. A successful roll leaves the magic user with a collection of their research notes, the spell memorised and copied into a format that they, or another, can use to memorise it in the future. A failed roll means that the magic user has wasted the time and money without getting anywhere.

Reconstructing a spell from a magic user’s completed research notes (their own or another’s) just requires going through the completion stage again. However a failure here means that the magic user fails to comprehend the notes and they are pushed back to the experimentation stage. A successful experimentation roll returns the magic user back to the completion stage while a failure has its normal result.
This is also the case if the research notes are incomplete and come from another magic user, or more than a year has passed since the magic user last worked on the research. But here the completion roll takes a day, cost nothing but time, and reveals where the notes end. Success permits the magic user just continue where their peer left off. Failure counts as a setback. Magic users who have taken a brief break (less than a year) from their own work don’t have to make this roll.

Peer Review. 

In some circles spell casters are expected to share their findings with their peers. Of course said peers don’t just want to see the finished product they want to see the workings too. This takes them a number of hours equal to the level of the spell and a single research roll. This roll gets a bonus to their intelligence for each level the spell is below the maximum level they can cast. It is penalised for each level above the maximum level they can cast and by each setback that was encountered during research. Failure here means that they can’t comprehend (nor learn) the spell in its current format (the fools!). This will require the researcher to make a further completion roll before they can attempt another review.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

The Z.Smith Situation.

While I have written about this elsewhere I don't feel I have expressed my regrets enough.

I am deeply sorry that I ever considered myself a friend of that reprehensible sapient smegma stain. I am unequivocally sorry I ever defended him online. I regret not seeing him for what he truly was.

I hope Mandy, and everyone else he has harmed over the years, all the best. I thank them for having the strength and bravery to speak out against their abuser.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Thought for the Day, Feb 6th 2019

"Being an avowed pacifist when you can fight so naturally is like a polyglot refusing to speak their mother tongue." ~ some random neuron in my brain.
I'm a avowed pacifist, not a polyglot though. I dislike violence, but I'm one of those people who moves towards a disturbance rather than away. When threatened I find myself moving into a fighting stance. If the vast majority of people are sheep then I'm one of life's sheepdogs.

Once a mugger tried to stab me and I accidentally broke his arm. His knife and the contents of my stomach ended up in the gutter and I never let myself get that drunk again.

Violence is bad, but it is also a form of communication. This day and age has seen the return of an ideology of violence that most of us had hoped was long dead.

I'm talking, of course, of Nazism.

Just over a year ago an antifascist activist punched a Nazi ideologue in the face during a televised interview, spawning the Punching Nazi meme that continues to this day.

The Original and the best "good night alt-right"

Some people feel that punching Nazis is bad because violence is bad (duh) and resorting to violence just legitimises the violent behaviour of the Nazis.

Others feel that punching Nazis is good because Nazis are bad (duh), which makes resorting to violence a legitimate tactic to curb the violent behaviour of the Nazis.

So where do I, an avowed pacifist, stand on the whole punching Nazis issue?

Well it comes back to me not being a polyglot. Hear me out.

The nature of the Nazi ideology is violence. Its every word and deed is violent. Its long term goals are violence and its continued existence is violence. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy quoting someone else:
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of violence is that pacifists do nothing."  ~ that neuron is on a roll.
Just as I wouldn't go to a foreign country and try communicating loudly and slowly in my native tongue I won't try and debate a Nazi. They don't speak debate. They speak only violence.

So to communicate with Nazis we too must lower ourselves to speak to them in violence.

So I'm all in favour of punching Nazis as it's the only language that they understand. Punching Nazis doesn't break my vow of pacifism and I'm okay with that.

The original snowflakes. Cold, wet, white and fragile; melt and run when heated or pressured. Only dangerous in large numbers

Monday, 4 February 2019


I'm reinventing myself and this otherwise dead blog.

G+ is joining the dodo, Tumblr is on a shoogly hook since the smut purge, I abandoned Facebook so many years ago that I can't remember when, and Twitter leaves me quaking with rage after about five minutes.

So all my g+ gaming stuff is coming here.

I do have some blogs on Tumblr. A lot of them to be honest. There's a fairly comprehensive list here. Tumblr tends to eat far too much energy and time for me to do more than dip into it.

A lot has happened over the last 7 years.

Much of it bad. Most of it too painful to repeat here. The PTSD is strong with this one. Along with the anxiety, stress, clinical depression and suicide attempts. So sometimes I'm just going to be too ill to do stuff.

RPing online of any sort is one of them. I'm trying to organise some face-to-face gaming but adult responsibility makes scheduling difficult.

That said I'm going to keep doing the gaming prep/design/stuff that I should of been doing here for the last 7 years. Yay me!

The re-branding of this blog, the new name and url, is representative of the 'new' me. I'm non-binary, NB or "Enby". I'm also gender-fluid, which is to say that my gender identity shifts over time and not just between male and female. In exploring my gender mindscape, a sort of hexcrawl of identity, I have discovered and named aspects of myself which appear to be part of my sexuality and gender. Aside from Female and Male I've also identified Cat, Dragon, Magical, Mundane, Planet, and Space. Explaining them would take far too many words. But I'm at my best mental health when I'm magical, space, dragon and cat. Or to but it another way:

Hey! I'm Niles Calder, a Magical Space Dragon Nyanby!
Pleased to meetcha!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

De-Based Units of Currency

I love ConstantCon and FLAILSNAILS. However moving between silver standard and gold standard worlds is seriously handicapping poor Zaunn, as all his G.P. become S.P. but don't convert back again. This is particularly on my mind as I work on my Fort Flaime 'megadungeon' that I hope to run as a FLAILSNAILS game and I find that I can't decide between the two standards.

The problem appears to me to be, as with the conversion of currency in the real world, the perceived value. In OSR games value is short-handed into the metal each coin is made from. But this seems faintly ludicrous for the purpose of FLAILSNAILS. I feel that the inherent value of the coins should remain roughly the same when moving between FLAILSNAILS worlds. Inherent value is measured in buying power, that is how much you can buy with them. In Jeff Rient's Wessex, a Gold Standard setting, a single gold coin buys exactly the same as a single silver coin does in Evan Elkins's Dark Country, a Silver Standard setting.

Where I am going with this is to suggest that perhaps what we should to do is separate the coins from the pre-defined value, what they're made from, and instead define the coins by what they're worth. The easiest way I can see to do this is to remove the metals from the names of the coins and instead name the coins as something other than "pieces".

Here's the coinage I intend to use in Fort Flaime:

  • Sovereign: Bars of precious or semi-precious metals that are used to store wealth or trade between nations. Could literally be a pound of silver. They are mostly found in the hands of monarchs and the super-rich. Hence their name.
    = Platinum Pieces under a Silver Standard
    = Multiple Platinum Pieces under a Gold Standard
  • Crown: Large denomination coins typically only used by nobles and merchants amongst themselves. This association with the aristocracy gives the coins their name.
    = Gold Pieces under a Silver Standard
    = Platinum Pieces under a Gold Standard
  • Standard: These are amongst the most common coins used.At least by Adventurers. Weapons and armour typically cost multiple Standards but not quite a Crown and the association with military equipment gives rise to the name "standard".
    = Silver Pieces under a Silver Standard
    = Gold Pieces under a Gold Standard
  • Groat: The groat is the most common coin in circulation. It is said that "a man can eat but for the want of a groat"; a day's worth of food for a person typically costs them about a groat. Indeed the groat is also a generic term for hulled grain that is used as the foundation of many meals. Perhaps this is the source of the name.
    = Copper Pieces under a Silver Standard
    = Silver Pieces under a Gold Standard
  • Bit: These are the coins used for smallest of purchases. They're called bits because they are literally fragments of other coins. If something is "not worth a groat" then it is probably worth a bit, at least to someone.
    = Fragments of Copper Pieces under a Silver Standard
    = Copper Pieces under a Gold Standard
The thing that struck me as I wrote this, even though I'm pretty sure flies in the face of economic wisdom, is that Silver Standard settings are fundamentally better off. It seems to me that Gold Standard settings must be fairly resource-poor for common items to cost ten to twenty times more (going by the common OSR conversions between gold and silver pieces) than in a Silver Standard setting.
Feel free to comment, hurl criticisms or rotten fruit.

Monday, 28 November 2011

The Dark Priest Optional Class

I created this class after being inspired by the Black Priest class in an early edition of White Dwarf. Edit: Issue 22, page 16 for those keeping score.

Dark Priest

The Dark Priest is an Unholy Man of malign intent who is far closer to their dark gods than any evil theurge.
Requirements: DEX 13+, WIS 13+, CHA 13+
Prime Requisites: WIS
Hit Dice: 1d6, +1 hit point per level of experience past 9th.
The Dark Priest has a maximum Base Defence Bonus of +4.

The abilities of a Dark Priest are as follows:
  • Aid of the Dark Ones: The Dark Priest may call upon the powers of their gods. The dark gods may or may not grant these powers at their whim. The effect of this is that the Dark Priest may request the casting of any spell, divine, arcane or otherwise. The player adds their Dark Priest’s experience level, Charisma modifier and any relevant bonuses (see below) together and subtracts the level of the spell as well as the number of times in the past game week that the Dark Priest has successfully called upon the Aid of the Dark Ones. The total is added to a d20 roll. If the this equal or exceeds 10 then the Dark Priest’s request has been granted.
    • Every 200sp work of material goods (including the coins themselves) sacrificed to the Dark Ones adds +1.
    • Every HD of living creature slain by the Dark Priest in the name of the dark gods adds +1. The slain creature must be verbally, and clearly, dedicated to the dark gods during battle or immediately after they die. The Dark Priest must have struck the victim at least once, if only to deliver a coup-de-grace.
      • A further +1 is added if the victim is intelligent.
      • A further +1 is added if the victim is ‘innocent’ or ‘good’.
      • A further +1 is added if the victim slain ritually.
      • A further +1 is added if the victim is slain in an area Consecrated to the dark gods in question.
    • +1 is added if the spell is being cast within an area Consecrated to the dark gods in question. +2 if it is being cast in defence of that place.
  • Assassin’s Cord: The Dark Priest can use a garrot to silently kill his victims. The garrot does 1d6 per round in the hands of the Dark Priest. Attacking from behind or surprise a dark priest rolls two dice for damage and uses the highest. At the 5th level of experience they roll three dice and use the highest two. At the 10th level of experience, and greater, they roll four dice and use the highest three.
    Because of their dedication to using the cord Dark Priests never use missile weapons.
  • Dark Familiar: A Dark Priest may summon a familiar as if casting a 6th level spell. The summoned familiar is typically some creature or animal sometimes of monstrous size or form suitable to the dark gods the dark priest serves. The familiar remains with the dark priest until one of them dies. It takes a week for the dark priest and a new familiar to bond completely. They can do nothing but acquaint themselves with each other. The familiar and the dark priest remain in constant telepathic communication irrespective of distance. The familiar can assume human form at will, always as an attractive member of the opposite sex of the dark priest however the familiar will only change form when alone, alone with the dark priest or with the dark priest’s most trusted allies and/or servants. As well as any attacks based upon their form the familiar has an unique attack that causes the victim to save vs Toxin or sleep for 1 hour for each point save was failed by. If the familair is slain within line of sight of the dark priest the dark priest will be stunned for 1d6 rounds. However the dark priest suffers no further penalties upon the death of their familiar and can summon another whenever they wish but they can only have one at any time. When they have a familiar dark priests can only be surprised on a roll of 1 on 1D6.
  • Dark Prayers: The Dark Priest can cast Divine spells as any (un)Holy Man. Their spell memorisation chart is given below. As can be seen they progress in memorised spells far slower than a theurge or slayer but can memorise twice as many spells as is typical for a Holy Man. Likewise their spell points are twice their experience level plus their wisdom modifier.
  • Extraordinary Climbing: A Dark Priest can climb sheer surfaces without the need for special equipment. His chances of success are +5 on 2d6. This chance increases to +4 at 5th level of experience and +3 at the 9th level.
  • Sneaky: Beginning at the first level or experience, a Dark Priest gains a +1 bonus to surprise when alone or operating with rogues of similar experience. Otherwise, a Dark Priest's surprise chance is equal to that of the least sneaky character in the group. This bonus increases to +2 at the 5th level of experience, and +3 at the 9th level.
    Dark Priest Spell Memorisation by Experience Level.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Mapping Flaimehaven

So I generated a rough description of Flaimehaven using Abulafia and tried to sit down to map out the place. My first attempts using Vornheim to create a street map failed. Alphabet roads, although they've worked for Portherion (in the Great Campaign) and the ruined city in the Celestial Door setting, just wouldn't gel for Flaimehaven.

Flaimehaven felt like a planned town so I sat back and did the most "planned" map I could think of and placed the locations Abulafia had provided.

I hate it. The grid and the scale. I reckon each block is about 200' to a side which makes the whole place roughly a mile to a side. It's a small city and not a town. I put it to one side and let my thoughts percolate.

This afternoon I sat down and made a second attempt. Same locations but instead of a lazy grid I thought things through. Here's what I came up with:

There's still a grid but it's less formal. The scale is better too. I reckon it could be 5 foot to the pixel and I could probably map it on a much grander size but probably don't need to.

Only there's still a problem. As Terry Pratchett says the first priority with any town and city is how the water gets in and the waste gets out. So unless I make a third attempt and remember to put a river through the town there's a spring that rises up under the plaza. The resulting stream flushes out the sewers and exits from under the northwest corner of town. Possibly accounting for all those disused houses.